State em­ploy­ees col­lect Red Cross funds

Do­na­tions would be ear­marked for dis­as­ters oc­cur­ring in state

Albuquerque Journal - - METRO & NM - BY RICK NATHANSON JOUR­NAL STAFF WRITER

State em­ploy­ees raised $13,524 for dis­as­ter re­lief in New Mex­ico, Gov. Su­sana Martinez an­nounced Wed­nes­day dur­ing a news con­fer­ence at the Al­bu­querque of­fices of the Amer­i­can Red Cross New Mex­ico.

In pre­sent­ing the check, the gov­er­nor said the money was col­lected in July as part of this year’s Dol­lars for Dis­as­ter cam­paign con­ducted by state em­ploy­ees. New Mex­ico is cur­rently the only state gov­ern­ment to have a Red Cross cam­paign, she said.

The part­ner­ship be­tween Red Cross New Mex­ico and New Mex­ico state em­ploy­ees was ini­ti­ated by Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion em­ployee and Red Cross board mem­ber Yvonne Encinias in the wake of the 2011 Las Con­chas wild­fire, which burned across 156,000 acres of north­ern New Mex­ico wilder­ness.

“From fires, floods and other emer­gen­cies, New Mex­i­cans know more than most how im­por­tant it is to be pre­pared, and how to come to­gether to help those in need. I’m proud that our state em­ploy­ees are lead­ing by ex­am­ple,” Martinez said.

“I also ask that all New Mex­i­cans join me in sup­port­ing the Red Cross as they work to help our neigh­bors in Texas with Hur­ri­cane Har­vey.”

The Red Cross is cur­rently work­ing to de­liver food, wa­ter and other es­sen­tial goods in the af­fected area. It is also work­ing to set up and main­tain shel­ters for those dis­placed by the hur­ri­cane, a task that has proved chal­leng­ing be­cause some shel­ters are now be­ing evac­u­ated due to ris­ing flood wa­ters, Martinez said.

Kathy Se­gura-Salas, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Red Cross New Mex­ico, said “it’s too early in the re­sponse” to know with any de­gree of ac­cu­racy how much in­di­vid­ual and cor­po­rate money has been do­nated to Red Cross of­fices through­out the state on be­half of re­lief ef­forts in Texas.

Martinez said she’s been un­able to make con­tact with Hous­ton Mayor Sylvester Turner, but has had a con­ver­sa­tion with Texas Gov. Greg Ab­bott. “I of­fered him any and all of our state agency as­sets,” she said. “We have up­loaded ev­ery­thing we have avail­able, and then when they need it they just ask for it and we will send as­sis­tance over to them. New Mex­ico stands ready to help in any way we can.”

In the mean­time, Martinez said the New Mex­ico Na­tional Guard has de­ployed three air­craft and their crews to aid in re­lief ef­forts, as well as pre­pared a team of more than 80 per­son­nel to ac­com­mo­date po­ten­tial ad­di­tional re­quests for as­sis­tance.

The gov­er­nor on Wed­nes­day also greeted and wished well Ellen Ben­ton, 72, who was leav­ing for the Hous­ton area to as­sist in shel­ter re­lief op­er­a­tions there. A Red Cross vol­un­teer for less than six months, this will be Ben­ton’s first de­ploy­ment with the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

She is among about 15 Red Cross vol­un­teers from across New Mex­ico who are al­ready in the Hous­ton area or are en route.

“My motivation was just to go in and see what I can con­trib­ute to the sit­u­a­tion,” she said. “It’s re­ally sad, and you feel so sorry for all the peo­ple go­ing through this and los­ing their homes, and the an­i­mals. There are peo­ple com­pletely dis­placed and I just want to help them.”

GREG SORBER/JOUR­NAL

New Mex­ico Gov. Su­sana Martinez, right, greets and wishes well Ellen Ben­ton, 72, of Farm­ing­ton, who was about to leave on her first de­ploy­ment as a Red Cross vol­un­teer. She will be posted to shel­ters in the del­uged Hous­ton area, hit hard by Hur­ri­cane Har­vey.

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